6 Steps to Reach Customers in Challenging Times
“If you build it, they will come,” from the classic 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams” does not apply to business in today’s COVID 19 reality. “You need to reach them” is now the more likely approach. Even in the best of times, we must effectively communicate great ideas, strategies, and work plans to have value. In our isolated world of today, being heard and getting what you need is more challenging than ever.
In a recent research paper by Accenture, “COVID-19: A New Era in Customer Engagement,” they rightly state that while COVID-19 has been one of the biggest challenges of our generation, customer behavior is changing at a staggering pace. Digital adoption has become necessary for survival. Post-Pandemic, businesses will need to accommodate these new attitudes and behaviors. Leaders should be taking action now to meet customer expectations post-crisis.
Six ways you can pivot your communication
for the new reality
Establish new Rules of Engagement
Your staff needs to understand what to say and not to say or do.
Focus on your digital image. Current events might dictate a change, but more likely, it will be time to double down on your logo and colors. Being consistent will make you familiar to your customers when they find you online and enhance your brand recognition. Now is an excellent time to consider rebuilding your website, bringing it in line with the new way of doing business digitally.
Do your research on the proper timing for communications. The frequency and delivery method have changed now that your customers are primarily online. Researching how often and where you send communication pieces will help you reach and track responses to gauge customer retention.
The tone and how you speak to customers ‘digitally’ will also reflect on your brand. Everything you post will reflect your brand. Knowing proper etiquette for online will prevent you from alienating your customers. It is ok to use a unique voice, but it should be consistent and become recognizable to your customers once you establish it. Your customers will take comfort and trust a constant voice in every communication you send.
Don’t limit your channels for communication. It can be comfortable to keep to one type of communication, but right now, trying new channels and thinking out of the box will increase your chances of reaching your customers. Your communications should compliment each other. Examples might be a blog post to one audience, a picture on Instagram, or even an SMS text campaign to your loyal customer base.
Educate your customers about what you (now) do
If you are changing how you do business, you need to re-educate your customers.
Make sure you can find your business online. Use search engines to determine if your site comes up. Google has specific tools to determine if your website is in their index and ways to submit it here. It is also an excellent opportunity to consider Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising as it is a smart move to engaging your customers.
Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more relevant to you now when your customers cannot visit your physical business. Engage experts to review your digital presence so the search engines can correctly identify your content.
Connect with your customers via social media during critical moments (see our links below as examples). Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, Graduations, and local events can be opportune times to add a personal touch and celebrate with your customers.
Stay ahead or leapfrog your competition. Not everyone will take advantage of the opportunity presented, and it may be your time to arrive first, engaging and welcoming new customers that might not have otherwise found you.
Create an open-door communication channel
Make sure customers know they can engage you in whatever method is comfortable for them.
Use digital options to make your business more approachable. Your customers spend most of their time on phones than ever before. Texting is not only convenient but practical. A service to consider may be eztexting, which allows your customers to sign-up via text to receive updates from you.
Highly value and learn from feedback
Be genuinely interested in suggestions, comments, and concerns; addressing in a timely manner.
Your customers want to help. They want to engage and tell you how they feel. Being open to feedback is the best way to respond. Keep a record of comments and communicate what you are doing to respond to concerns. A method to gain feedback may be email survey campaigns, keeping an open survey on your site, or even allowing customers to chat with you directly from your website. Be careful to take all feedback in context and not merely react to each as it comes in. You will be looking for trends in the input. It would not be ideal for fixing something for one customer, only to break it for ten others. You should avoid panic moves. Be prepared to pivot your business if the feedback warrants it.
Frequently communicate where you are going
Update your customers regularly about your goals and vision.
Now is the time to develop and execute a new marketing plan. One that delivers persuasive communications and achieves the outcomes you need. Adapt your style to your customers’ for a more significant impact and create conversations or dialogs. Avoid one-way messaging as much as possible. Use a seasoned marketing partner to assist where possible in laying out a strategy that accelerates returns for your business.
If you maintain a positive attitude and work with others who can help, the current problems and tasks become lighter and more comfortable to bear. It will get better.
Prepare your business for the bounce-back surge. Be ready and agile to quickly respond. These unique circumstances provide unique opportunities to build relationships. Also, use this downtime to finish your digital to-do lists. The world is changing fast.
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